I will never forget the moment when I realized I had made a massive mistake at work. I never truly understood the term “my stomach dropped” until that moment.
I was humiliated. I should’ve known better.
Despite everyone telling me that it was okay. Despite the fact that I had a track record of great work. Despite all of that, I let one mistake define me.
I was careless. I was a failure. I was a mistake.
No one said those words to me, but I believed them wholeheartedly. I had gotten to a point where my self-worth was completely tied up in my job.
When I had a day of successes, I was flying. I was queen of the world. When I made a mistake, I was in a slump that nothing could get me out of. This led to more slumps and more mistakes.
I thought this was my dream job. A high profile position at a high profile company. What I did was seen by hundreds of thousands of people each day. I was in constant demand. I was important.
Therein lies the issue.
I thought “I had an important job” was the same thing as “I am an important person”. Which translated to “I made a mistake” meaning the same thing as “I am a mistake”.
These are not the same thing. And thinking they were was toxic. You and me, we’re SO much more than our jobs.
Work hard. Do your best. Go the extra mile. But always remember: you are NOT your job nor defined by your position.
— Louie Giglio (@louiegiglio) April 24, 2012
I’m now about 14 months into a new job. And this above tweet from Louie Giglio defines my attitude about work. Since starting this new job, I’ve learned a few things:
My job is just a part of who I am. It’s not all of who I am. I am also a daughter, a friend, a sister, a cousin, a writer, a runner, a reader, and so much more.
Doing a job that isn’t all of me leaves so much more room for others. I can put other people’s needs before my own.
People like you a lot more when you aren’t constantly talking about work.
Taking off my “busy badge” was incredibly freeing. I’m no longer in a competition with the world to be the busiest. I’m just not playing that game anymore.
For 40 hours a week, I am completely dedicated to my work and I love it. But with the other hours, I can work on my story and my passions. I’m learning how to live a meaningful life.
I can relate. My job search a few years ago was tough. When things started looking really grim and I started seriously thinking of getting “any job”, I suddenly got depressed. I realized that I was attaching whatever job I got with who I was. Fortunately, an opportunity came up and I got the job I was looking for. And I learned a valuable lesson. No one cares about what I do. As long as I do it well, be a nice person, help others, am fun to be with and so on.
Thanks for sharing Dan! It’s amazing how our jobs, or lack thereof impact what we think of ourselves.
What a great post. I have also had the dreaded “stomach drop” and as you described, it was a major self-esteem hit, but it didn’t need to be. It’s all about perspective, which is something I’m still working on. I think the same thing can be said about school – letting your grades define your worth. I think a lot of how we connect our work with our value starts back in high school and university. It takes a long time to un-learn!
That’s such a great point! Our grades define us from such a young age. We become an “A student”, “B student” and that can stay with you as an adult. Not easy!
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